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N-deal: Burns may visit India for negotiations

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Last updated on: February 17, 2006 03:10 IST

United States Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns may visit New Delhi next week if there is a possibility of nailing down a credible separation plan by India to be formally presented to US lawmakers.

Nicholas Burns was in India recently to work out the details of the separation plan and also set the table for President George Bush's visit sometime in March.

Assistant Secretary of State for the South Asian and Central Affairs Bureau designate Richard Boucher informed this before the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican, who is the chairman of the panel disclosed that Burns and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph had come to meet him and other members of the Committee on Wednesday to keep them apprised of the negotiations.

Sources close to Lugar, though, told rediff India Abroad that they had not presented the lawmakers with any formal proposal or separation plan by India that is required as a first step for Congress to consider the nuclear deal.

The sources told rediff India Abroad that absolutely no specific separation plan or list of civilian and military nuclear facilities have been submitted to the committee or the House International Relations Committee, and whatever they have been briefed on is simply a sort of conceptual plan which has been in the public domain ever since the July 18 Joint Statement.

Administration officials told rediff India Abroad that the onus was on New Delhi to submit a credible and transparent separation plan that is defensible for the administration to work with Congress.

Thus, they said, if there is an outside chance that this could be completed next week and New Delhi informs Washington that a unambiguous understanding could be reached on the eve of President Bush's visit, Burns visit India in order to cross the Ts and dot the Is.

Other roadblocks for the deal:
More trouble for Indo-US nuclear deal
Massive campaign on against N-deal
India won't take any more conditions
Indo-US N-deal will trigger arms race in South Asia
China attacks Indo-US deal
Indo-US deal may be dead on arrival


Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC